It’s so strange how the Nintendo Switch has become the haven for indie games recently. That title has always belonged to Steam and the PC space in general due to how open-ended it is, but the Switch has seen massive support for indie titles no matter how big or small. It can be due to the simple nature of the console, not requiring a lot of hardware prowess in order to run and the accessibility for mobile gaming. Nintendo was also a relatively closed-off garden a while back with their first-party stuff taking front and centre while only allowing a few third-party developers through.
Things have been brewing considerably over at Nintendo with deals struck with myriad publishers to bring their titles to the humble little handheld and opening the gates for all types of indie game goodness. During Nintendo’s shareholder meeting, newly appointed president Shuntaro Furukawa was asked what the company’s future plans will be for the indie space. Here was his response:
We started working with indie developers during the Wii U generation,” Tanaka started. “For Nintendo Switch, we set up a development environment that supports Unity middleware, which is used on smartphones and other platforms. We are also actively engaging with indie developers at video game-focused shows and other events in different regions. We also had a Nintendo booth at the BitSummit indie game event held in Kyoto, where we showcased some games. Some of the indie games already released have gone on to become million sellers worldwide. In the future, we are looking to release around 20 to 30 indie games on Nintendo Switch per week, and we definitely expect to see some great games among them.
20 to 30 releases a week. Good golly. You can’t say that the Nintendo console doesn’t have any games anymore, that’s for sure. However, this ambitious target wields a whole lot of complications. Firstly, it can suffer the same fate as Steam where the shop gets bombarded with off-colour meme games or low-effort pieces of garbage to the point where finding the gems is close to impossible. Secondly, the eShop is, and I say this rather confidently, a mess. The discovery features, general UI and lack of basic quality of life features makes it so incredibly hard to find new games or browse the existing wares.
The Switch is in a very exciting place and Nintendo are embracing its strengths, but they need to be careful here as some missteps could spell disaster for them.